Watch Out for Cruise Missiles

Facing a left-hander in Coors Field, Nelson Cruz is basically an auto-play, especially when taking into consideration opposing starter Tyler Anderson has allowed 1.93 home runs per nine innings to right-handed hitters this year. Check out daily fantasy expert Ricky Sanders’ recommended plays to help you fill out your roster for today’s MLB.

Infield:

Nolan Arenado, Rockies, $10,400 – Of course, hitters in Coors Field are always enticing, but tonight features a battle between a struggling pitcher (Tyler Anderson) and a pure fly baller (Ariel Miranda). Despite the recent success of Miranda, the Rockies opened as -140 favorites and it is likely because Miranda attempts to register most of his outs via the fly ball and that just will not work in this atmosphere. In his pitcher-friendly home park, Miranda can get away with this sort of skill set. In Coors Field, this is a recipe for disaster. While Arenado has not lived up expectations against RHP so far this year (.305 wOBA), he has torched LHP to the tune of a .586 wOBA, .529 ISO, .431/.473/.961 slash line, 39.0-percent hard hit rate and a 24.4-percent line drive rate. Most notably, he has hit fly balls at a 51.2-percent rate and will now face a pitcher allowing a 51.7-percent fly ball rate to RHHs. Bombs away for Arenado and the Rockies’ right-handers.

Miguel Sano, Twins, $8,700 – Plenty of other hitters are in favorable power spots as well as Miguel Sano will face square off against a pitcher allowing a league-worst 5.49 home runs (HRs) per nine innings in a ballpark conducive to righty power. Yes, the Twins will do battle with Mike Fiers who sports a .497 wOBA allowed to RHHs to go along with a 8.4-percent BB rate, .326/.394/.824 slash line allowed and a 42.2-percent hard hit rate. Literally no one in the league hits the ball harder than Sano as he still leads the MLB in average exit velocity. Furthermore, Sano leads the Twins with a 55.7-percent hard hit rate against righties, a .408 wOBA, .271 ISO, .404 OBP and .559 SLG. Just about the only category he does not lead the team is in AVG and he still hit for a respectable .288. All-in-all, if there is one hitter to click the lock button on tonight and roster on every time, it is easily Sano (even over Arenado).

Outfield:

Nelson Cruz, Mariners, $9,900 – Do not go cheap on hitters tonight is an ongoing theme of this article because there are plenty in terrific spots including Nelson Cruz against a left-hander in Coors Field. Amongst all active hitters (min. 200 career at-bats), Cruz owns the 14th highest wOBA against LHP behind the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Kemp. In other words, the man is clearly an elite hitter in the platoon split and now he will be playing in the best hitting environment in the league. Over the course of his career, Cruz has managed a .393 wOBA, .297/.375/.558 slash line and 37.5-percent hard hit rate versus lefties and Tyler Anderson has had a difficult time limiting production from RHHs this year. In 41.0 IP against righties, Anderson has yielded a .385 wOBA, 1.98 HR/9 rate, .289/.354/.558 slash line and 28.5-percent line drive rate so he is clearly in trouble against one of the game’s best. Fading Cruz is like leaving the fire on the stove top on all night; sure, it could work out fine, but most likely you are in trouble.

Michael Conforto, Mets, $12,000 – Citi Field is not exactly Coors Field when it comes to the level of favorability to hitters but somehow, someway Michael Conforto has still managed to post dominant numbers this season against RHP. Over the span of 146 plate appearances (PA) against RHP this year, all Conforto has done is put up a .436 wOBA, .325 ISO, .325/.418/.650 slash line, 23.9-percent line drive rate and 46.7-percent hard hit rate; all of which are pretty elite numbers. Meanwhile, opposing starter Zach Davies has pitched his way to a 5.40 ERA against lefties and his underlying peripherals suggest he has actually fared worse than that (.256 BABIP, 5.70 FIP). Still, LHHs have managed .359 wOBA, 9.2-percent BB rate, 1.91 HR/9 rate, .245/.339/.510 slash line, 32.1-percent hard hit rate and 37.8-percent fly ball rate against him. When Conforto is at his best, he is making solid contact with his powerful swing that has somewhat of an upward angle. Conforto hits a ton of fly balls, and Davies allows them, so he is a legit threat for multiple extra-base hits in this game. Start him in any and all formats.

Pitchers:

Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks, $18,400 – Instead of writing up Chris Sale, who is obviously the best pitcher in baseball, it seemed more productive to focus on other pitchers. Sale draws just about the worst possible matchup (at home against the White Sox) so he is a fine play but awfully expensive. Other than giving up too much hard contact, Robbie Ray is a fantastic fantasy pitcher himself because he has struck out hitters at the fifth highest rate of any qualified pitcher this year. In fact, he has struck out hitters at a higher rate than teammate and team ace Zack Greinke (29.8-percent K rate to Greinke’s 29.6-percent rate). The Pirates are just a middle of the road offense against lefties and are not incredibly scary beyond Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison and David Freese. As a whole, the team ranks in the bottom 10 of AVG and line drive rate, so they are not producing a ton of hard contact. Since the Pirates will not be able to take advantage of Ray’s Achilles heel, the advantage goes to the power lefty.

Kenta Maeda, Dodgers, $17,400 – After struggling with the long ball early in the season, Kenta Maeda has only allowed one homer over the course of his last four starts. Digging deep into the numbers, there appears to be a reason for his recent success: both his fastball and sinker have moved vertically at a substantially higher rate over the course of his last two starts. Even though Maeda will head into this game with a 5.08 ERA, his underlying numbers suggest positive regression is on the horizon. Hell, Maeda has forced swinging strikes at an impressive 14.4-percent rate, and swinging strikes are the most predictive statistical category for future strikeouts. Therefore, with his pitches moving more as of late, he should be in a decent spot to succeed against the Cardinals in Busch Stadium. For the season, the Cardinals rank as about a league average team across the board so this is an average matchup for an ascending pitcher. Since Vegas believes in him too, and lists him as a road favorite, consider him a fine, much cheaper alternative to the likes of someone like Sale.

Dinselson Lamet, Padres, $12,000 – Bats are going to decide who wins and loses on this slate so saving on pitching would be ideal. Luckily, Dinelson Lamet will be pitching at home in the pitcher-friendly environment of Petco Park against a struggling Cubs offense. Amazingly, the Cubs rank in the bottom 10 of wOBA, WRC+, AVG, OBP, SLG, hard hit rate and line drive rate against RHP while striking out at the 11th highest rate against the handedness. Lamet routinely reaches the upper-90s and he struck out eight Mets over five innings in his first career start. With the ballpark only helping his cause, he should prove to be a superb value on a per-dollar basis at this basement price tag.

*Stats are accurate as of Monday, May 29

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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